9 November 2023 - Today, in the presence of Prime Minister Jan Jambon, Flanders Make in Kortrijk opens its third centre for technological research and innovation for the manufacturing industry. Here, companies can test the latest technologies and production methods and are guided in the optimal investment path for their production environment. The 500 industry representatives attending the grand opening are already convinced: companies that want to remain successful need to bet more than ever on the digital and green transformation. Only through deep innovation can our industry remain competitive and sustainably contribute to the prosperity of our region provided a stimulating environmental framework.
Companies can no longer ignore it: their customers increasingly expect customised products, delivered quickly and preferably at no extra cost. The pressure to operate sustainably is also increasing. Not only the market but also other stakeholders such as investors, credit institutions and government are forcing companies to adopt a new approach.
At Flanders Make, more than 850 researchers work together with diverse companies on some 1,200 product and production innovation projects per year. At the new Kortrijk site, Flanders Make supports companies in the necessary transition to smart, sustainable production, with a focus on small series and high product mix.
"This fits into a new strategic plan 2030 to increase the relative contribution of industry to the economy in Flanders from 17% GDP to 20% GDP, the target of the European Industry Agenda. In this, Flanders Make takes on the role of catalyst, helping companies to fully engage in digitalisation and in the sustainable transition.
The evolution towards Industry 5.0 combines further digitalisation with artificial intelligence-based technologies with specific support for the operator, who remains central to production.
Innovations that Flanders Make develops and applies in vehicles, machines and their production environments also find their way to other sectors, including the food, textile and pharmaceutical industries, the construction and agricultural sector and logistics, via the new site in Kortrijk," says Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board of Flanders Make.
At Flanders Make in Kortrijk, companies get the chance to test out the latest production technologies and processes in real conditions. This allows them to continue investing in highly competitive production in their own region in a future-oriented way.
"Thanks to our unique research infrastructure, companies that want to make a strong commitment to innovation can discover at our facility in a tangible way how they can make a wide range of products in relatively small quantities in an efficient and sustainable way. Flanders Make is there for everyone, the only requirement is that the company has an innovation focus. Here, we let both big players and SMEs experience how to make the best use of new technologies such as digital twins, smart robotisation and automation," says Grisja Lobbestael, CEO of Flanders Make.
A yet-to-be established Flanders Make Academy will also support companies to prepare their employees for the jobs of the future. People will continue to play a central role on the shop floor in the future. Here, they can receive support through digital work instructions and robots that help them with heavy and repetitive work.
Minister-president Jan Jambon says: "International competition for the industry of the future is fierce in sectors such as semiconductors, batteries, data and the broad manufacturing industry. Today, with Flanders Make in Kortrijk, we are taking an important new step with the opening of a new centre for technological research and innovation for the manufacturing industry. The innovations resulting from Flanders Make will enable us to develop new high-tech industries and provide existing and outdated industries with green, efficient and sustainable production possibilities. We have the necessary knowledge and capabilities in Flanders. We are now going to maximise this for the benefit of our large and small companies and society."